Category: Gaming

Attack of the coffee cups – Steve barely plays: Prey

Attack of the coffee cups – Steve barely plays: Prey

Prey Gameplay

Having already had a productive Saturday morning, I decided to kick back and have an hour on my Playstation, which has sadly been neglected over the last month or so.

Upon booting it up, I was immediately greeted with a chime telling me that the Prey demo had finished downloading. Having only played a bit of the original back in 2006, I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I started a new game.

If you were to have told me an hour before that one of the greatest enemies in the game was a coffee cup, I might not have believed you. As it turns out, making you distrust ceramics isn’t the only trick Prey has up its sleeve…

A Prey of Sunshine

The beginning of Prey starts out like a normal day, although a slightly futuristic version. The curtains open to allow rays of sunshine to flood our sleek apartment and we wake up and immediately grab your ringing phone. Our brother, Alex – who also appears to be your boss – tells us to get our uniform on and head to the roof so we can begin your new job.

This being a video game of course, there is no chance of that happening. Instead I poked around every corner of my bedroom, sifting through emails, picking up bits of metal tubing and banana peel (if there’s one thing games like Fallout and Skyrim have taught me, it’s to pick everything up) and drinking the bottle of wine that had been left on the side. What else am I supposed to do at 9am?

After testing out the physics engine by flinging all the objects I could around the apartment and trying to block my sink with towels, I headed to the roof where a chopper was waiting for me.

Preytime is over…

After a scenic helicopter ride, it’s time to get to work. Alex – who seems to have been at the pies – gestures us towards a testing room where you are given a series of simple tasks to get us used to the control scheme. There’s even a questionnaire, which appears to be geared around finding out if we’d push a fat man in front of a train to save a group of people. Nice try, bro.

Alex did not appear to have kept to his New Years’ Resolution.

Unfortunately, the test is interrupted as an strange creature seemingly made form black fluid masquerading as a coffee cup, leaps onto the head scientist and appears to literally suck his brains out. We then see someone with a shotgun take out the assistant before the test chamber is flooded with nerve gas. What a first day!

Groundhog Prey

The next day, we wake up in our apartment with everything appearing the same as the previous morning – except some things appear to be amiss. The date is still March 15th, 2032, the emails all read “DANGER. LEAVE NOW” and someone appears to have moved the wine. Suspicious.

Nonetheless, I down the bottle.

I’m glad I did when we open the door – right outside the apartment, the friendly caretaker lady has had the same brain-sucking treatment as Mr Scientist man. To pay our respects, we do what any friend would do and steal her wrench for alien-bashing purposes – it’s what she would have wanted. Probably.

A voice comes on my phone – somebody called ‘January.’ Having never met someone called January, I immediately reach to key in ‘New phone, who dis?’ before she tells us we need to get out the apartment. Instinctively, I smash through the window with my trusty wrench and am amazed at what I see…

There goes the deposit…

It’s all a simulation. The apartment, lifts; even the helicopter ride. I find a console which has been simulated the sound of pigeons outside and realise I’ve been living a lie.

Things soon go from bad to worse. As I enter the same test area, I see the monster who killed Mr Scientist man is still at large. January tells us this species is called Typhon cacoplasmus, AKA a ‘mimic’. New species or not, I hit it with my wrench until it’s Typhon splatmus and move on, now feeling very weary of my surroundings…

Don’t trust the coffee cups in Prey

The mimic’s main ability, we soon find, is to well…mimic any miscellaneous object in the game. Stationery, bins, lampshades; they can be nearly anything. It keeps us on our toes, trying to stay vigilant for anything out of place.

Having seen what rogue coffee cups can do, I hit every single one I came across, and couple of times this revealed enemies hiding and gave me bonus sneak damage. As an unfortunate side-effect, I now have an innate fear as mistrust of coffee cups. I’m also no longer allowed within 50 yards of a Costa coffee shop.

As we move through the world, it is soon revealed that things are even more different to how I’d imagined. The next area of the game shows you are in fact in space, while there are more dangerous enemies lurking about. Even more intriguing, there are clues littered around the game’s terminal that your brother may be responsible, leaving me desperate to piece things together and advance the story.

Another great thing about Prey is the variety in ways you can approach it. Rather than being limited just to guns, you have a Gloo Cannon to freeze mimics, a stun gun and many more weapons to defeat your enemies, as well as a host of powers from neuromods. It not only allows you to customise a character to fit your play style but also lends multiple ways to approach levels. Can’t find a keycard? Just make a glue bridge and climb onto a pipe and let yourself in. Or hack a computer. It felt a lot like Dishonored or Deus Ex and left me wondering how many areas I might have missed on my first playthrough.

The only criticisms I have are that the combat can sometimes feel a little clumsy – especially when cycling through weapons – and after a while tying to sneak up on mimics felt a lot less rewarding. Once you start facing multiple enemies, all hopes of rooting out those pretending to be furniture go out the window and it soon seems more efficient to run around the room so they reveal themselves rather than unmasking them. Perhaps this is something that changes at higher difficulties, but it soon began to take the fun out of a more subtle approach.

Nevertheless, I was really absorbed in the futuristic, simulated space world before the game prompted me to tell me the demo was finished. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with regards to the story, and I’m curious to explore some more and find out what the hell is going on.

Just don’t trust the coffee cups.

Football Manager Beta #2: The Cult of Eddie Howe

Football Manager Beta #2: The Cult of Eddie Howe

Football Manager 2017: Bournemouth Episode Two

One challenge of managing Bournemouth is replacing a manager that’s actually pretty bloody good.

For those who don’t know, Eddie Howe took over a club from the brink of relegation from the Football League (to what is now the called Vanarama National League and presumably chaired by the bloke with the deep voice from the advert).

Despite a 17-point deduction he saved them from their Vanarama fate and brought them up through the leagues and all the way to the top. He even managed to keep them in the Premier League with much of the same squad, and all while playing some ballsy attacking football.

It was fair to say the fans weren’t happy hiring a man with only Sunday League playing experience, no coaching badges and a solitary runners-up trophy from his days playing on the wing at Shoreditch under-12s to replace him.

Sunday League trophy

It will be a tall ask, but Henry needs to make the supporters forget about Howe – the equivalent of the handsome boyfriend that left to do missionary work in Africa – and fall in love with McHipster – the man who plays Football Manager in his room but has some fetching scarves and a half-decent vinyl collection.

First he had to get to grips with the team. Apparently the boys are well-equipped for possession football – which is handy as it’s one of the aims the board has set. It also said there is great depth in the squad with four right-backs, which is useful if for some reason we end up playing four right-backs…

One concern is there is apparently a ‘lack of leadership’ among the boys. While Henry got a Silver Duke of Edinburgh award, it may be an area that needs addressing when we dip our toes into the transfer market.

Football Manager team report

Overall though, the squad looks in pretty decent shape, so I decided to take a look at the staff Henry would be working with. One name that immediately jumped out was ‘Andy Howe’, who was indeed listed as a ‘relative’ to dear Eddie. A bit of digging and I found out he was in fact Eddie Howe’s nephew who had been working with his uncle since he was 15 and followed him around ever since. Employing family members with no coaching experience seemed a bit dodgy – perhaps Howe really would be perfect for England.

If I was to establish Henry as a South Coast kingpin, we couldn’t have family members hanging around the club. I’ve seen Game of Thrones and I know how these things go down. Andy was gone.

Football Manager Andy Howe

Having sifted through the coaches and physios I decided a few peoples’ stats weren’t up to scratch and terminated their contracts (sorry Ben Donachie, but your kids aren’t getting iPads for Christmas). There was a female head-physio called Victoria McIntyre whose attributes weren’t great but, after what happened when Eva Carniero was dismissed at Chelsea, I decided to keep her around.

The final order of business before, y’know, winning the football, was to pick some players for our pre-season tour. Apparently the lads (and Victoria) are off to Singapore. Shame it isn’t Thailand – we all know what happened when Leicester City went there…

There was a friendly match against Bournemouth under-23s the next day. With the fans already against his appointment, it was important Henry bagged an early win for morale. Plus, it’s just embarrassing losing to the kids (just ask Aston Villa). A winning tactic was a must.

Having read Shoot magazine from a young age, Henry knows his tactics. His hipster tendencies made him desperate to play with an Enganche, Regista or inverted wing-backs but for now he only had the players for a solid 4-2-3-1. He wasn’t about to rock the boat just yet.

With possession football the aim, it was decided ‘Shorter Passing’, ‘Retain Possession’ and ‘Work Ball Into Box’ would be the way to go in terms of team instructions. It was time to see how this would work in practice however.

Football Manager Bournemouth tactic

The answer was pretty well. Bournemouth passed the ball around pretty well and kept the under-23s at bay with ease. It took Callum Wilson only four minutes to score from a Jordan Ibe cross. The crowd went wild as Henry looked on indifferently with folded arms.

Just under 20 minutes later and it was 2-0. Captain Steve Cook (not to be mistaken for Captain James Cook, the explorer) headed in from Jack Wilshere’s cross. It looked like the floodgates were about to open.

But open they did not, as Bournemouth under-23s firmed up their defence. I wouldn’t go as far to say completely solid – more like a dam built from chewed wood than the kind of wall Donald Trump probably thinks about before he goes to sleep.

In the end Simon Francis put the gloss on the win as he headed home from Junior Stanislas Baratheon’s corner. The Cherries ran out 3-0 winners and although they only managed 50% possession (the board will have a fit when OptaJoe tells them that), nobody got injured and it was a good performance overall.

Football Manager Bournemouth game

All in all, it was a good start for Henry. Things were looking better for him than Eddie Howe, anyway. Jose Antonio Camacho – who apparently last managed China in 2013 – somehow got the England manager’s job as Howe was overlooked again.

Sorry, Eddie.

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Football Manager 2017 #1: Henry McHipster pops his Cherry

Football Manager 2017 #1: Henry McHipster pops his Cherry

Football Manager 2017: Bournemouth Episode 1

Another year, another edition of Football Manager.

Every twelve months I tell myself I won’t play it because I’ll be busy and don’t want to spend all my time indoors on my laptop; every year I realise it gets cold in winter, my friends are all busy and I’m spending all my time indoors on my laptop.

This time I thought I’d get ahead of the curve and pre-purchase it, meaning I got to play the Beta edition of the game. How exciting!

Why blog about Football Manager?

Usually when I start a game on FM, I spend a good hour picking a team that speaks to me, then another six to eight hours fiddling with sliders and sacking staff members and youth players alike, ruining their hopes and dreams. Then I get bored and do the same thing somewhere else without even playing a match.

I was determined to find a way to keep myself invested, so I decided to do what anyone with too much free time, a laptop and a misplaced sense that people want to read about them playing a video game would do – blog it!

With that in mind, I jumped straight in.

Football Manager Premier League

Who to manage in Football Manager

The first big decision I’d have to make was which team was going to ruin. This is usually one of the toughest parts of the game for me as I’m not only indecisive, but have commitment issues even when it comes to a video game. West Brom? Too tall. Chelsea? A bit racist. Sunderland? Didn’t Adam Johnson play for them?

I decided early on I didn’t want to manage a national team, even though the England job is available. There would be way too much pressure to get those overpaid prima donnas to kick the ball right, and The Telegraph would be all over my shady dealings. I didn’t want to end up on the front page for letting Wayne Rooney start up front in exchange for two pints and a Gregg’s sausage roll.

In the end, I opted for plucky Bournemouth. Mainly because it might mean Eddie Howe – the saviour of English football – gets the England job, but also because the Cherries were a breath of fresh air in the Premier League. They were also only promoted a year ago and therefore probably wouldn’t expect me to win the league immediately. I could even imagine I had a nice house in Sandbanks. With a yacht. Maybe even a butler.

Who will be my Football Manager?

The next thing I had to do was create my alias. One thing I noticed immediately was that this year managers seem to look almost like functioning members of society rather than a model made from plasticine by children that had been left in the sun. There was also an option to put glasses and a trimmed beard on them, meaning only one thing.

My manager was going to be “hipster AF”.

Football Manager Created Manager

After dressing him as close to an Urban Outfitters mannequin as I could (this will be all over the high street next year, trust me) I started filling in his personal details.

Football Manager Henry McHipster

I decided to name him Henry McHipster – perhaps it might get into LADbible or something that way – and that he would have to hail from London. Maybe Shoreditch or Hackney – he could even listen to vintage vinyl between games.

Then I had to pick my favourite team. Obviously for me this would be my local team Leicester (again, up the Foxes), but after their title success and Jamie Vardy’s book deal and film, they’re waaaaay too mainstream now.

Instead I opted for Hamburg St Pauli. They’re German, they’re not in the top division (they’re not even the biggest team in Hamburg) and they have a strong affiliation with left-wing politics – perfect for Guardian-reader Henry.

The rest I left undecided; I have no idea what formation I’ll play and even though the game allows you connect to social media, I doubt people would want Facebook and Twitter updates telling them I was playing FM and eating doritos.

So I click ‘play game’ and get a message confirming the news.

Football Manager Bournemouth

Henry McHipster has popped his cherry.

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